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Foundation Continues Support for Furniture Academies

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) Furniture Foundation announces it has awarded $49,000 in grants for 2020 to support furniture industry training programs.

The Furniture Foundation was established in 1948 to fund research and educational initiatives aimed at improving management, manufacturing and marketing within the home furnishings industry. Since 1990, it has distributed more than $4.2 million. The 2020 grants include:

  • $15,000 for 60 student scholarships to the Alexander Furniture Academy in Taylorsville, N.C., part of Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC). The Alexander County academy was launched in 2016 to create a pipeline of workers for the upholstered furniture industry, which is the largest industry cluster and economic driver in western North Carolina. The academy offers sewing and upholstery classes in a simulated factory setting developed in collaboration with local manufacturers. The 24-week program is taught by expert sewing and upholstery workers from nearby companies, including AHFA members Craftmaster, Hancock & Moore, Huntington House, Kincaid/La-Z-Boy and Taylor King. The academy has placed 100 percent of its 118 graduates to date.
  • $7,000 in scholarships to the Catawba Valley Furniture Academy developed in 2014 in Hickory, N.C. The academy offers “stackable” credentials in seven areas, including automated cutting, manual cutting, pattern-making, sewing, inside upholstery, outside upholstery and spring-up assembly. The program began in a 6,000-square-foot training facility in Hickory. By 2017 it had moved into a 38,400-square-foot building specifically designed for furniture industry training. The academy has placed 100 percent of its 270 certified students to date and continues to grow with support from more than 30 furniture industry partners. 
  • $15,000 for 82 student scholarships to the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute’s Furniture Technology Institute (CCC&TI) in Hudson, N.C. CCC&TI trains workers for careers as industrial sewing machine operators and upholsterers. Like the CVCC program, students receive hands-on training in a simulated factory environment. AHFA members McCreary Modern and Fairfield Chair are among the manufacturing supporters of this program. 
  • $12,000 to Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, N.C., to continue the school’s scholarship program for furniture design students. The grant will once again fund four $3,000 scholarships. The foundation has supported ASU’s furniture design program since 2002. It provides students with a bachelor of science degree in industrial design focused on product development, environmental concerns and manufacturing requirements.

The AHFA Furniture Foundation accepts grant proposals in March each year. The foundation board reviews all proposals and makes the final funding decisions.